Instead of making the 1% – the rich and big corporations – pay their fair share, House Republicans voted to make unprecedented and devastating cuts to essential services at a time when 99% of families can least afford it.
These service cuts would hurt millions of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. At the same time, some in Congress want to give the richest 1% and big corporations more than $4 trillion in tax cuts.
Money from the federal government is by far the single largest source of revenue for state and local governments. So what Congress does matters a lot.
Direct support professional, Cantave Pamphile, tells Congress to get its priorities straight
My name is Cantave Pamphile. I started this work because of the experience I had with my nephew. He has Down Syndrome and I saw what my sister was doing to take care of him. I wanted to be able to provide that assistance to others who need it. I see that if these individuals are given a hand, they can really be able to live the independent lives that they want to.
The best part of the job for me is just working with the individuals and spending time with them. We can see how much our work means to them and contributes to their well-being.
We’re often staffed just enough to maintain the proper level of care for our individuals, and there are so many more things that we could do with the individuals if we had the resources.
If funding for the individuals that we serve were cut, it would affect them a lot. There are eight individuals in the house that I work in, but we only have three staff at a time. The people that I work with need a lot of assistance, so if we were to lose just one staff person, the result would be dramatic. The whole system could fall apart.
Every one of the individuals that I work with has become a part of my family, and I feel like I’ve become a part of theirs. We spend so much time with them, making sure that they have the support they need, that it’s just natural to be close with them and their families. I can’t imagine not being a part of their lives.
Members of Congress need to hear about the individuals that I work with and how much they depend on the services that we deliver. They need to know how the work we do allows individuals to live as independently as possible, and without our work they would be left hanging.
Late Monday afternoon, the congressional Super-Committee announced their failure to put forward a proposal to cut $1.2 trillion from the U.S. budget over the next 10 years.
Time and time again, the Super-Committee proved unable to reach an agreement on long-term deficit reduction for one reason and one reason only:
Republicans refused to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans wanting the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share, Republicans refused to budge from their stance that Bush tax cuts be preserved while cutting programs that the middle class, seniors, and most Americans depend on.
Democrats on the Super-Committee stood their ground that the rich pay their fair share or no deal. They insisted that everyone in America pay their fair share and prevented devastating cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and other programs that millions of Americans rely on for their healthcare and livelihoods.
By rejecting the Republican proposals that came out of the Super-Committee, Democrats were expressing the views of the vast majority of Americans and standing behind them. While these efforts were able to prevent a bad deal from coming out of the Super-Committee, this fight is far from over.
“Now, it’s up to both chambers to focus on putting Americans back to work. That is the best way to reduce our deficit,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in a statement following the announcement by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. “A cuts-only approach will not work and will end up shifting responsibility to already stretched state budgets and cost millions of jobs.”
In a White House press briefing Monday evening, President Obama took Republicans to task for not proposing any serious deficit reduction proposals that would required shared sacrifice:
“There’s still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington. They continue to insist on protecting $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at any cost [...]“
More details from the New York Times on the failure of the Super-Committee to propose a plan to identify $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions in time for the November 23rd deadline.
I wanted to share this email I just received from SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry.
Sometimes our representatives in Washington lose their way.
It’s as simple as this: America needs good jobs, not more healthcare cuts.
Democratic and Republican members of the congressional “Super-Committee” are poised to cut Medicare and Medicaid rather than end tax giveaways for big corporations and millionaires.
That’s just plain wrong.
Please call to tell your member of Congress that they cannot support a Super-Committee deal that takes away the healthcare that seniors, people with disabilities and working families are counting on and destroys jobs. Here’s the number:
Recent news reports say that these members of Congress are reviewing proposals that include staggering cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to the tune of $500 billion or more.
Cuts of this magnitude would be a terrible deal for 99% of Americans and especially disastrous for seniors, people with disabilities and children who rely on these lifesaving healthcare services. America’s middle class is hurting. Instead of cutting healthcare and cutting jobs, it’s time for Congress to ask millionaires and big corporations to do their part in reducing our nation’s deficit.
Call your member(s) of Congress and tell them that to say NO to any deal that cuts Medicaid and Medicare and yes to protecting the jobs that get America working again:
Mary Kay Henry
SEIU International President
As the Congressional supercommittee looks for places to trim the federal budget, early reports forecast that Medicaid is on the chopping block for either direct cuts or massive cost shifting to already financially-strapped states.
What’s missing from these negotiations is the recognition of the positive value Medicaid has on the economy of every state.
REALITY: Medicaid benefits are not actually a major driver of the deficit. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
When it comes to job creation, investment in healthcare through Medicaid is one of the most effective and efficient forms of economic stimulus. Every dollar spent on Medicaid–whether from state or from federal sources–provides vital healthcare services to seniors, children and people with disabilities while bringing additional economic benefits and new jobs to everyone in that state.
Cutting federal spending on Medicaid, then, means cutting jobs.
In the name of reducing our federal deficit, some members of the Congressional supercommittee would rather risk jobs and the lifesaving healthcare services millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children rely on than raise taxes on the richest individuals and corporations in this country.
We do not ‘need’ to cut Medicaid in order to put Americans back to work. If the proposed cuts Congress is considering become a reality, they will have the exact opposite of the desired effect – resulting in the loss of not just healthcare services but also millions of good-paying jobs.
We’ve created a chart using the Families USA “Jobs At Risk” data to provide you with a clearer picture of how cuts to Medicaid would impact jobs and state economies.
More useful resources and facts after the break on why Medicaid matters for putting Americans back to work.
The Straight Facts:
Much more on how investments in Medicaid create jobs and stimulate the economy on our new campaign page: www.seiu.org/healthcare-jobs.
Our union’s home care workers provide lifesaving care to seniors and people with disabilities every single day around the country. They’re on the front lines of personal care and know all too well how cutting and gutting Medicaid will affect their consumers, their families and simultaneously cost hardworking people good jobs — jobs that cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas to other countries.
Folks have had about enough of the blatant disrespect the threat to gut Medicaid is toward our most vulnerable citizens–and the workers caring for them. It is for this reason that more than 40 home care members from 10 different states joined forces with disability rights advocates and allies today to participate in a “My Medicaid Matters” rally on Capitol Hill.
And the fight didn’t end there: Our members then went off to meet with the staff of 16 Senators, including members of the “super committee.”
When Gilda Brown, a home care worker from Chicago, had the chance to talk with some of the Senate staff, she drilled home how important Medicaid Matters with a story from a “normal day” of work for her:
“The woman I care for has sickle cell anemia and relies on me for everything. One day in the middle of the winter the furnace caught on fire, “Don’t leave me here,” she said, “Don’t let me die.” After instructing her to call 911, I ran down into the basement and began smothering the fire.”
Can you imagine how this day would have ended if Gilda was not there for her client? Cuts to Medicaid, as being proposed, would force her client to pay out of pocket for homecare – if she could afford to pay for homecare. If she couldn’t afford the care, however – what happens then?
Home care worker Julia Newton, member of SEIU Local 5, became a personal care attendant because of her son Antoine, who is autistic and needs around-the-clock care. Julia is also in town to participate in the important Why Medicaid Matters campaign.
Julia shared the story of Antoine being on the urgent waiting list for a Medicaid waiver for 10 years.
“Together with my fellow homecare workers, we led a campaign in the Virginia legislature to add more people in critical need of homecare services to our Medicaid program,” she said. “My son is one of the new lucky recipients, but there are thousands of Virginians who are still on the Medicaid waiting list who are not so lucky. This isn’t right!”
It’s time we get Congress to think long and hard about our seniors and neighbors with disabilities. We need to Congress to consider that cutting Medicaid would also eliminate millions of jobs the homecare and long term care industry currently employs.
Will you make yourselves heard with Gilda and Julia? Click here to take action to protect Medicaid now.
SEIU Local 509 had a very successful week working in partnership with families, the trade association, advocacy organizations, legislators, and consumers. There was major news coverage of our call to action to improve safety measures in the state’s mental health system. Most notably was an op-ed in the Boston Globe, written in collaboration between the Presidents of both the SEIU Local 509 and the Behavioral Health Association, calling attention to the necessity that the state implement all of the Safety Task Force recommendations.
Both our organizations and our members understand the critical importance of staff and consumer safety at DMH-funded programs. Safety is an essential condition for the success of these services in helping individuals achieve recovery. Direct care workers, providers, consumers, DMH and the Legislature need to work together to for the benefit of both consumers and staff in passage of comprehensive legislation based on the recommendations of the DMH Task Force on Staff and Client Safety.
Press coverage also included a six minute radio interview on WBUR with SEIU 509, NAMI-Mass, and the family of Stephanie Moulton, a human service worker allegedly killed by a mentally ill client. There were also two news articles on a rally spear-headed by the Moulton Family, SEIU Local 509, and The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.
Here are some links to those articles:
Family of Slain Caseworker to Testify on Beacon Hill for ‘Stephanie’s Law’
Service Workers, Family of Slain Peabody Woman Rally for Statewide Safety Reform
Local 509 also testified in favor of “Stephanie’s Law” at State House, as a part of an overall safety reform campaign in the mental health system.
This bill, named after Stephanie Moulton, would require all DMH facilities to be equipped with panic buttons. Local 509 is proud to garner support for this bill and will keep working with all stakeholders to improve all areas of safety for human service workers.